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Memorial Bon-Fire Remembers Ketchikan Youth


September 06, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - A Memorial Bon-Fire Friday night drew both the young and old in rememberance of Ketchikan youths that have died too young. According to John Seeds, "Participants simply desired to keep the love, memory, and lights burning in order to highlight the seriousness of the losses felt by several families who have lost children in the past few weeks and months."

Relationships, support for making better choices for life, and community spirit were top priorities for the event said Seeds.

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Memorial Bon-Fire Friday night
Photograph by John Seeds ©2005

According to one of the organizers Bobbie McCreary, the first gathering was held on Thursday afternoon. During this gathering adults and a few youth shared experiences and discussed the situation in the Ketchikan community and the community gathering planned for Friday night.

McCreary said some of the events on Friday included: chatting with old friends and making new acquaintances of all ages, enjoying a diversity of music and the humor of Mark Osborne as Master of Ceremonies, and roasting marshmallows and hotdogs over burn barrels under the watchful eyes of the Ketchikan Fire Department. McCreary said one young man brought a CD of Tyson Burns' favorite music to play in remembrance of Burns.

Frinday night, there were about 100 personal thoughts written that participants wanted to let go of. The personal thoughts were then burned in the fire said McCreary.

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Local Fire Department Crews helped extinguish the fires at the close of the Friday night "Mini-Rally"... and even let one young attendee, help hold the hose.
Photograph by John Seeds ©2005

McCreary said, "We must give a special thanks to all those in the community who donated their time and materials to make this event happen, and particularly to the VISTA volunteers and their friends and members of the Ketchikan Youth Initiatives, the Ketchikan Hot Shots Paintball League and the Revilla Island Prevention Coalition who brought it all together."

Blue wristbands will be made available that say Hope, Courage, Strength, and Faith. The purpose of the blue wristbands is to show that people in the community support the youth in Ketchikan and grieve with their family and friends when a youth is lost due to accidents, illnesses or drugs.

"It was a great deal of fun to see everyone who showed up, and we here at Ketchikan Youth Initiatives are very grateful that there was such a strong community response." wrote Tyrell Rettje to SitNews.

Rettje said in his letter, "Specifically we would like to thank Mayor Weinstein, the landowner of the lot, the Ketchikan Fire Department, Ketchikan General Hospital for the use of their tent, Tyler Rental for the use of a generator, Tony Azure of the Boys and Girls Club, Tatsuda's, A&P, Safeway, Ketchikan Youth Court, all the Ameri-Corps VISTAs, Mike Sallee for all the fire wood, and the Revilla Island Prevention Coalition. And of course, the unforgettable Mark Osborne, our Master of Ceremonies."

"This is the first of many healthy activities we hope to sponsor, and we feel that is important to keep not only the youth involved, but the community, to show that people do care, and are willing to do more than talk about fixing the problem," said Rettje.


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